Last month Jubilee Australia attended a workshop on Zimbabwe’s debt crisis at the Eurodad Conference in Barcelona and is supporting ZIMCODD (Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development) in its call for an audit on Zimbabwe’s unpayable and odious loans.
Zimbabwe’s debts are mainly owed to lnternational Financial Institutions such as the World Bank, IMF and African Development Bank and currently stand at a staggering $4.6 billion. Experts believe that if this debt is not addressed it could balloon to $US 7 billion by 2011. There is a strong argument for the odiousness of Zimbabwe’s debt - much of which has resulted from the post colonial burden, failed IFI structural reform programs in the nineties, and the lack of access to debt reduction programmes that other countries have benefitted from.
Debt relief from both multilateral and bilateral creditors is imperative if Zimbabwe is to be able to meet the basic needs of its people. Sarah Bracking, an expert in Zimbabwe’s debt, points out that there is a strong moral case for the culpability of indebtedness to be shared by donors. Firstly IFI’s must accept responsibility for imposing structural programmes which were flawed and increased indebtedness. Further, many of the resources were diverted or used inappropriately, often with the tacit consent of donors
So where to from here? It’s not as simple as applying for the HIPC initiative which assumes all debt is legitimate and should be repaid. Also in order to apply Zimbabwe must start making regular debt payments – and these payments will funnel money away from desperate plight of Zimbabwe’s vast number of poor citizens.
Jubilee Australia is supporting ZIMCODD in its call for a debt audit. An audit will assess the purposes for which the debt was contracted and the actual uses to which the borrowed monies were put. Thus the legitimacy of debt will be able to be assessed and odious debt identified and subsequently cancelled.
By Bron Hanna
See Zimcodd’s press release at: